The digital generation has spent a larger portion of their life on their phones, which has had a negative impact on the development of mental health technology and healthcare. As a result, millions of Americans now rely on anxiety medications to treat their pain and anxiety. The World Health Organization estimates that by 2030, depression will be the leading cause of healthcare costs globally, totaling $6 trillion, or all of the world's healthcare expenditures in 2012.
By blaming people for the way their brains function, traditional notions of mental illness are being replaced. Nowadays, most people agree that the brain can go sick without the owner's fault, just like any other organ. Technology has already changed mental health more quickly than anyone anticipated.
Despite the fact that 2020 saw significant global declines in mental health, there are grounds for cautious optimism. The impact of COVID-19 on both our individual and societal wellness prompted the world to confront mental health issues like never before, and creative thinkers have risen to the occasion. They have contributed solutions from a variety of fields to a challenge that previously seemed insurmountable.
Today, anyone experiencing anxiety or mental health difficulties can simply take control of their mental health using online programs on nearly any device. Unfortunately, a few decades ago, this was unthinkable. Maintaining the standard of care while we investigate the convergence of clinical research and tech entrepreneurship presents a problem. Thankfully, there have been a lot of AI and big data-based breakthroughs during the past two years.
Here are some mental health innovative ideas that have impacted mental health treatment:
1. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
When alternative treatments for depression failed, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), sometimes known as electroshock therapy, was frequently utilized. Despite the possibility of effectiveness, patients frequently found the negative effects on cognition and memory to be intolerable. Today, mental health providers can use magnets in place of ECT to treat refractory depression.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, modifies the electromagnetic environment of the brain using magnetic devices.
They essentially employ a sizable electromagnet that concentrates on the parts of the brain that regulate mood in order to lessen the symptoms of depression without the usage of drugs or other intrusive procedures. In one clinical experiment including these therapies, it was discovered that 30% of patients who had clinically significant depression went into remission while 47% of patients with resistant depression responded to TMS.
2. Digital Pills
In 2017, the FDA granted its initial approval for a digital pill. Since then, the technology has shown promise, and other businesses have continued to release new items. The goal is to develop a pill with a sensor that collects data so that healthcare professionals may monitor patients and know whether they are taking their medications as prescribed in real time. Effectively monitoring and assisting psychiatric patients is one of the challenges here. Even so, it can be a particularly helpful way to keep track of whether or not patients have adhered to prescribed treatment plans.
3. Speech Analysis
Medical personnel receives indirect information about the patient via speech analysis as well. In the future, it might also develop into a crucial tool for diagnosing mental diseases. AI and machine learning can be programmed to recognize auditory cues that can point to the existence of one or more mental diseases.
The Canadian Conference on Artificial Intelligence received a paper that professor Eleni Stroulia and her student Mashrura Tasnim wrote outlining the potential uses for this technology.
This tool could potentially identify PTSD in soldiers, alert them to the onset of psychosis, and even assist in the diagnosis of bipolar illness, anxiety, and depression by analyzing speech patterns and unconscious language clues.
4. VR in Mental Health
Virtual reality, which up until recently was merely a fantasy, is now applied in many fields, including mental health innovative ideas. In addition to being utilized for business, education, and entertainment, virtual reality (VR) can be an effective treatment for conditions including phobias, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Children with ADHD or other attention disorders, for instance, can practice concentration in a VR classroom. Additionally, people with autism can strengthen their ability to manage stress in high-pressure social circumstances like giving a speech or participating in an interview. Additionally, VR headsets reduce anxiety, which is important in these trying times.
5. Artificial Intelligence
In films like "The Terminator," artificial intelligence (AI) might not have the finest reputation. Even so, it has evolved into one of the most effective techniques in contemporary medicine. It can recognize an injury on an MRI thanks to its programming, which enables doctors to assess the severity of the damage.
Beginning in 2020, the use of AI-powered tools has grown fast, becoming utterly transformative by 2022. These technologies include AI chatbots that are helping with mental health right now
By assisting patients with cognitive-behavioral treatment, such as Wysa and Woebot (CBT). These gadgets will be useful for users in managing their symptoms in between consultations.
6. Video Games as Prescription
Video games have grown in popularity along with virtual reality, finally finding usage in mental wellness. As we have established, people with ADHD can improve their attention in a VR classroom, but so can they when playing video games. In June 2020, the FDA approved the first prescription video game, putting an end to any lingering doubts about the safety of their usage for mental health innovative ideas. Because playing video games enables multitasking, it helps patients experience measurable improvements in their mental health. The fact that they were created specifically for kids with ADHD between the ages of 8 and 12 ensures that only young patients would benefit from them.
7. Smartphone applications
Most people's life today revolves around their smartphones. Analysts estimate that more than 5 billion people worldwide own and use smartphones as of 2019. These gadgets provide a mostly untapped market in terms of providing mental health care and obtaining information. The majority of mental healthcare, as previously said, is based on a subjective assessment of the patient and how they present themselves in the clinic.
Using digital diaries or other comparable technology, smartphones can produce a picture of a person's mental health in between consultations. While it does rely on self-reporting, this can be a priceless tool for individuals who are serious about their mental health. It can support professional treatment but shouldn't take the place of a scheduled appointment with a mental health expert. In the United States, all smartphone apps for mental health that have been examined and approved by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America are listed in their database.
8. Digital Symptom Tracking
Manually recording mental health symptoms takes time and is ineffective. When you initially see your therapist, you fill out a paper form. You then report any new symptoms at each in-person consultation. These symptoms are entered by providers into an electronic health record, which is probably not set up for data analysis. On the other hand, online symptom tracking requests daily data sharing from patients. This data is analyzed by an AI algorithm to spot patterns and notify service providers in real time of any danger indications. The least futuristic-sounding technology we've found here may be digital symptom tracking from businesses like Symple, but it's actually a critical step toward improving mental health treatment in the future.
We use technology constantly, yet we've only recently started to realize its potential for enhancing mental health. AI can streamline provider paperwork, generate real-time data streams that can be analyzed, and enhance patient care. Patients can practice new skills in incredibly realistic situations with the aid of VR and video games. For the most vulnerable mental health patients, digital pills might make it easier to ensure prescription compliance. Even computerized symptom tracking has a huge potential to cut paperwork and assist patients and doctors in identifying emerging issues earlier.
The Covid-19 crisis has made it necessary for mental health professionals to use certain new tech tools. However, as these creative ideas for mental health awareness get more potent, we'll see more and more healthcare professionals use them due to the intrinsic promise they hold: improved patient outcomes.
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